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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

that the nation's population growth is increasing its economic potential. Further, four in every five felt the ideal number of children to be five or more, and only four out of ten regard the birth control pills as acceptable; 20 percent felt that control of pregnancy was never acceptable. On the few items of which comparisons with a more general survey were possible, leaders were more in favor of families of five or more but more liberal on the acceptability of birth control than were nonleaders. (The high proportion of "don't knows" among the general population on questions concerning specific contraceptives, however, should be considered.)
In sum, the available evidence from Latin American studies of leadership groups indicated that:
1.  Large proportions are unconvinced that a population problem exists in their country. Indeed, many believe that rapid population growth is needed.
2.  Most leaders favor family planning programs, as opposed to population control programs, but even here substantial minorities are against such programs.
3.  There is some evidence that the upper classes are more conservative than the lower, but there are serious methodological problems which cause us to conclude that the question is still open.
While we lack these kinds of studies in other regions, it is of interest that a recent survey of over 600 members of urban elites in Ghana provided corroborative information on the first two points. For example, whereas close to three quarters favored the establishment of family planning clinics and two thirds expressed a willingness to use family planning, only a quarter of the males felt the nation's economic development would be helped if parents had fewer children, and over two thirds of the elite males and females felt the present national rate of population growth to be good, even after being told that it was "increasing much faster than in most parts of the world" (14).
THE PUBLIC OPINION OF ELITES
There is no doubt that the upper classes practice family planning much more than the lower and that their fertility is much lower. We have also noted that their private opinions tend to favor family planning, but not policies aimed at limiting population growth. What they say in public, however, is a matter of much greater significance than what they say and do in private. In this context elites may be defined as those who feel strongly enough about population and family planning to speak publicly on it, and whose prestige is great enough to merit publication of their views by newspapers or magazines. Since our analysis will concentrate on opposition to birth control programs, it may be helpful first to place both opposition and advocacy in a more general framework.
Table 7 schematizes the nature and source of elitist opinion on family